Today is supposed to be a day that veterans are honored.
It is a far reach in my family to get to a veteran. My father managed to avoid the Vietnam war draft under all of the technicalities, he even married my mother a few days early so that he could avoid being sent over seas… He was lucky.
Of my grandfather’s, only one served in the military. My maternal mother was colorblind (and was unable to be the pilot he wanted to be) and was needed Stateside to build the great Boulder Dam. My paternal grandfather served in the European theater in WWII.
When he was there, he took this bill with him:
In his handwriting you can read his name and serial number, his regiment and division.
The stops he made along the way;
New York Nov. 1 – 44 Luxembourg Dec. 13 – 44
Scotland Nov. 9 – 44 Germany Jan. 18 – 45
England Nov. 12 – 44 Belgium Jan. – 45
France Nov. 14 – 44 Germany Jan. – 45
Belgium Nov. 29 – 44 France Mar. – 45
Germany Dec. 3 – 44 Germany Mar. – 45
I can’t imagine what war in winter must have been like. The locations fit for his being at the Battle of the Bulge and that is certainly what has been shared with me.
When he was alive we never talked about this time of his life, and it was not something I would have thought to ask about. I do know he was a cowboy, was the best shot I have ever met, he taught me to shoot, fish and hunt, and also managed to raise some of the best strawberries ever.
Today, I took Squink and my nephew to be a part of our local Veterans Day Parade. Cub, Boy, and Girl Scouts joined forces and walked before the parade to hand out programs and flags to the people attending. It was a hot day and a long three mile (+) walk.
Near the end, Squink wanted to sit down, he said his legs were tired. So, I told him that when his own great grandfather’s (Schatzy’s were in WWII as well) had been in the war, they had not really been afforded the chance to sit if they got tired, and that I knew he was not tired enough to excuse sitting the rest of the parade out. So, I set him on a task to thank the veterans on the last leg of the parade by shaking their hand and saying “Thank you for your service”. He took the job very seriously, and it was impressive to watch as he would walk to a veteran I would point out for him and he would march directly to them, hold out his hand and say that short little phrase. Every one of them smiled, and said thank you… one even said thank you for doing this in the parade.
This helped the parade seem to end faster and I did not hear another complaint about this legs being tired.
Here is a picture of Squink shaking a veterans hand, just outside of the Veterans Hospital (near where the parade ended):
When we stopped to get something to eat at a diner afterwards, there was a veteran sitting at the counter. Squink went up to him and said the same thing and the gentleman said “Thank you, kid”.
(update to add this note from my father which I received via facebook)
Here is some more information for you, Blair. While my Dad served in WWII, he never talked about the violence other than sometimes describing his sorrow when he saw death. He used to tell me and my brothers and sister stories about the camaraderie and how the French appreciated their advances (he was in a scouting unit that went ahead of the main troops due to his map reading and woodsman knowledge.) My cousin and I used to ask him, “Did you shoot any Germans?” and he always said he never aimed at one. He used to talk about the hardships they suffered in the wet and cold and how a broken bone was called “a million dollar wound” since it would get you sent home. He actually called me when I was at work the day they announced that it was the last day that married people would be exempted and told me that he didn’t want to lose a son in Viet Nam. I didn’t like the idea – I supported the war – but I listened to him and your mom and I were married in a special service that evening.